Cole Hamels was drafted straight out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round (17th overall) of the 2002 draft. When he reached Triple-A in 2006, there was no doubt in the Phillies organization that Hamels was going to be the franchise’s long-term ace, and that he was. Ever since making his Major League debut on May 12, 2006, Cole Hamels has been the ace for the Phillies, leading the team through the glory days of 2007-2011 on the mound. The Phillies ace of the past decade will now be suiting up every five days for the Texas Rangers, as the prospects Hamels has given the Phillies with his high trade value, will hopefully expedite a much needed rebuilding process in Philadelphia.
Even though Phillies fans will no longer see their ace on the mound in Phillies pinstripes, they will never forget what Cole Hamels did for their beloved team. Phillies all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins took no time upon Hamels arriving to the big leagues to nickname the future ace “Hollywood,” as Hamels grew up in the southern California area. The nickname “Hollywood” suited Hamels well, especially when it came time for the Phillies run for the gold, beginning in 2007. Hamels’s filthy change-up turned him into a dominating pitcher, making him a reliable starter as the Phillies turned into a contending team.
Then came 2008, a team and year that will never be forgotten in Philadelphia. Cole Hamels rose to the occasion in his second year of postseason play. He earned himself the MVP of the NLCS after going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA, striking out 13 in 14 innings of work in two starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hamels didn’t stop there. He also earned the MVP of the World Series en route to Phillies first championship since 1980. Hamels earned his spot in the hearts of the Phillies fan base following his 2008 postseason performance. He helped his cause even more when he proclaimed during the Phillies championship parade, “If there’s one thing I cannot wait to do, is go down that Broad Street parade, again, again, and again.”
While 2009, 2010, and 2011 did not go as planned for Hamels and the Phillies, his desire to win always connected him with Phillies fans. Even when guys like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, or Roy Oswalt arrived in Philadelphia, Hamels always remained the fan favorite on the pitching staff. Fans felt his frustration from 2012 to the day he was traded, when Hamels would consistently pitch like an All-Star, but never got the run support from the declining Phillies roster to pick up any wins. That was the story of Hamels’s last four seasons with the Phillies: a lack of run support.
Hamels went 101-15 when the Phillies gave him three or more runs of support (John Clark – CSN Philly), showing just how awful the Phillies offense has been towards him these past few years. Since his Major League debut in 2006, Hamels has the most strikeouts in the National League, and is second in wins behind Adam Wainwright (CSN Philly). In Phillies history, Hamels finishes sixth in wins and third in strikeouts.
Through the good and the bad, Phillies fans always had number 35 to lean on when a big start was needed. Cole Hamels exemplified what it meant to be an athlete in Philadelphia. Off the field, he was always willing to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Hamels and his wife Heidi even started their own foundation called The Hamels Foundation, benefiting children through education in Philadelphia and Africa. On the field, he was always locked in and focused on his craft, pitching.
Cole Hamels will be remembered by Phillies fans as their ace. From the 2008 World Series, to the no-hitter in his last start as a Phillie. The nostalgia that will set in at Citizens Bank Park when Hamels returns to Philly as a Texas Ranger, and is inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame at the end of his career, will immediately take all fans back to his debut in 2006 and the glory days of Phillies baseball.
Thank you Cole, for everything.
Image Source: David Maialetti/Philly.com